Finalists / Susan B

Susan B. 

18.12% change in weight*

*Results not typical

I’m pretty good at losing weight. I should be with all the experience I’ve had. I went on my first diet at age 11.  I should have a lifetime Total Weight Loss counter all for myself: 200-300 lbs. Because the one thing I am better at than losing weight is GAINING WEIGHT! I’ve been virtually every clothing size from 4-14. The phrase yo-yo dieting was coined to refer to me.  This isn’t even my first Life Time Challenge. New clothes are hanging in my closet that I bought after that Challenge with tags still on them, that’s how fast that weight came back on.

My main goal for these 8 weeks was to erase the humiliation I felt upon seeing my before photos for this challenge. After trying for months to lose weight again I wasn’t looking forward to the holidays bringing even more weight gain. My husband suggested this Holiday Challenge. My reaction? “No way.” It was so hard last time and I was still incredibly disappointed at my failure to maintain that weight loss. He wasn’t deterred, saying “We would do it together, it would be fun.” So I signed up. He didn’t. I was a little mad at that but anger was quickly replaced with humiliation and despair after I saw the before pictures of my swimsuit-clad body. I weighed in at an even higher weight than the last challenge by a whopping 9 pounds. I felt overwhelmed. I had let my overeating get out of control once again.

Food is my drug. Has been most of my life. I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m bored. We celebrate with food, we commiserate with food. So really the most important lifestyle change I made during this Challenge was to do this Challenge over the holidays, when I would be stressed, happy, maybe a little sad (missing loved ones), and definitely celebrating. I was determined, though, to develop a positive nutrition plan and resist holiday temptations. I remodeled my diet to contain mainly fresh whole foods: vegetables and quality proteins like poultry, fish and whey. I planned to eat every 2-4 hours, with a good source of protein in each meal. I added a multivitamin and the supplements fish oil and probiotics. I exclude all highly processed foods.  And NO Sugar! No fruitcake this year (thank goodness), or any cake, cookies, candy, or pie.  With a little planning the holidays were surprisingly just as fun and exciting and fulfilling without all those extra calories.

But unexpected consequences of my success brought more challenge. Little-known fact, according to my doctor, is that weight loss can cause a buildup of lactic acid in the kidneys, which then blocks elimination of naturally produced uric acid from the body. If, like me, you already over-produce uric acid this can result in a severe gout attack. Hello painful swollen aching knees at night, good-bye uninterrupted sleep. For weeks! Good news is it’s mostly a night thing, so I was good to go on the elliptical doing HIIT workouts many days, provided I could stay awake.

My journey didn’t just begin 8 weeks ago, it has spanned over 18 years. As a member of Life Time since 2000, I have had personal trainers, taken boot camp classes, belonged to running club, had metabolism assessments, and participated in the challenges Try-It Tuesdays. I’ve learned so much about exercise and fitness, from effective strategies for cardio and core strengthening techniques to fun workout approaches like Pilates and TRX. I’ve learned to emphasize quality over quantity. But changing is a huge process, taking time and evolution. My success, actually progress, isn’t due to what Life Time offered to me during this challenge, but rather to the quiet influence it has had on my lifestyle over a long period of time. It would be easy to be disappointed in all my setbacks over the years, but if you keep taking two steps forward for that one step back, you will eventually get to where you’re heading. Through participation I’ve learned better choices and better fitness habits. I’ve gained an understanding of how my past choices sabotaged my efforts to sustain a healthy weight and achieve lasting results. The positive influence through belonging to Life Time has been persistent and effective, encouraging in me an enduring spirit to keep striving for something worth having.

I don’t know if I’ll maintain the changes realized during this challenge. My track record is pretty poor. But I have been playing this yo-yo dieting game for 45 years and I’m definitely sure that’s long enough. So this can’t be the end of my journey this time which means I do not have a stash of Christmas cookies and candy I’m saving to eat January 7 because the contest is over.  I’ve made a workout buddy and we keep one another accountable to show up to work out. Now that I have a healthier diet plan, I will focus my efforts on building lean muscle mass using resistance training. I’m pretty nervous, afraid of failing again but I am going to have faith and look for guidance along the way.  Hey Life Time, how about a 365 day challenge? I’m in!